26th January 2014

So, Miss Trierweiler has been dumped, no longer 'first lady of France' - but was she ever? Where's the responsibility necessary in a head of state when Hollande can't even sign a marriage contract?  I'd love to have been a fly on the wall at his recent talks with the Pope. I almost feel sorry for the poor Valérie, who now is officially homeless, losing all presidential trappings of limousines, private planes and staff - even her Paris flat was owned by Hollande. The wonderful French language has it right, the official communique affirming that the 'chef de l'etat et sa compagne mettent fin a leur vie conjugale'. I suppose the split was inevitable after the revelation in the mag Closer, photos showing the 2-year liaison of the president with the comedienne Julie Gayet, Hollande dashingly arriving as a helmet-clad motorcyclist to a secret flat owned by a gangster! Daily I've been expecting a resignation, visualising a Profumo-like scenario. Valérie as Christine Keeler, Julie as Mandy Rice-Davis. Maybe 'Profumo' willl soon be replaced by a more-charismatic 'Napoleon' (i.e. Sarkozy). Certainly 'Mandy' will need plenty of humour as she waits for her turn to be told 'Not tonight Josephine'! Him indoors: 'can't see any 'arm in it'..

19th January 2014

Abraham Lincoln once said "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."  So, it was with dismay that a fierce storm at the start of January brought down our ancient willow tree. Trees are such spiritual things, the forks of their branches reflecting the way our lives are going. Though hundreds of years old, it's no more. In this vein I felt compelled to repair and improve.  Our floor tiles were never screeded, making maintaining them difficult.  So, off to Brico to find some floor polish. Soon discovered the French don't seem to call it floor polish, but 'revetement' (re-clothe).  Armed with a 5L drum of huile de lin I've now 're-clothed' the salon and kitchen floors. Next, the front drive. Despite my home-made remedy of hot potato water, it still needed improvement so tomorrow 14 tonnes of white chippings arrive together with a Geotextil layer underneath. Not all things have gone right, though. The dogs have stained the bed mattress, so in a fit of zeal I used lessive de soude. Effective, yes, but on my finger rather than the mattress. A big burn that refuses to heal three weeks later. The branch of my life entitled 2014 has not started well.  

12th February 2014

Albi on Friday was lovely.  The sky was blue, the weather a warm 18 degrees.  It's nice to walk around the cobbled pedestrian areas, glancing at the locals rushing to and from work.  We always park in the Jean-Jaures car park off the Lices Jean Moulin.  Seems to be a law that all French towns name their streets and parking areas after the same historic men. At least I'm learning a bit about French history. Think Jean Jaures was a politician around the time of the infamous Dreyfus affair, and Moulin of course was the heroic leader of the French resistance.  Next we had lunch at the Saint James Bistro overlooking the fountain.  Our entree salad was wonderful:  a melange of hot pear slices, topped with chevre cheese and toasted walnuts tossed amongst green mache leaves. As we ate, a young girl wheeled in her grandfather, soon joined by the rest of the family. I love the French family spirit. Family is everything. But outside, sitting at the terrace tables were some young girls smoking. I felt like shouting No, No, don't you understand? Dying isn't just for the old; it can affect you too! France is a curious mix: wonderfully efficient health care, fantastic cooking skills, up-to-date chip and pin technology, but some old taboos like smoking still linger on.  Come on France: get rid of the tobacco!  

5th January 2014

I see that Nicolas Anelka's left out of the West Brom (football) game, I said to Him indoors yesterday.  Don't know about left out, said he: should have been 'right out'!
As many will know, the French striker is now infamous for making that quenelle (meat ball) goal celebration recently - a reverse Nazi salute. He seems to have convinced his manager and the world at large that the appalling gesture was simply to honour his friend, the French comic ironically called Dieudonné. God-given? What a misnomer. The so-called comedian is well-known for his racist, particularly anti-Semitic, 'jokes'.  Let's be clear here for a moment. We all have responsibility for what we do and say. Democracy gives the right to free speech, but - and here's the rub - free speech means we can criticise or run-down what people do and say (their actions) but NOT who they intrinsically are, how they are born.  Racism is about who people inherently are, so must be condemned. That's my suggestion for a global resolution this year.
Talking about resolutions, I asked Him indoors 'what's yours?'  A whisky, please!